DIGITAL REVOLUTION INFLUENCING HUMAN BEHAVIOR

SHAMIM AHMED RIZVI, ISLAMABAD
Dec 10 - 16, 2007

The rapid growth of information and communication technologies and innovation in digital system, specially in the last decade, has ushered a digital culture in the world. It is almost a revolution that has changed human behavior towards life. This digital revolution has brought the world closer to each other and forged new ways to communicate, to create knowledge, educate and disseminate information. IT has restructured the way the world conducts economic and business practices.

Despite it is late entry into this world of digital culture, Pakistan is now well set into this world of telecommunication and digital culture. Telecommunication is one of fastest growing sector in Pakistan and is also the leading sector attracting foreign direct investment. Five years back no one could predict that Pakistan's telecommunication with one of lowest teledensity in the region will see the mammoth growth that it has actually witnessed. Helped by prudent policies and a helpful regulatory environment the IT industry, with 50 percent growth rate in fiscal year 2006-07, has emerged as the fastest growing sector. Teledensity has risen to over 35 percent of the population from less then 5 percent five year back as currently there are more then 60 million mobile phones and fixed subscribers.

According to Syed Vaqar-ul-Islam, country Director Nokia Siemens Network, Pakistan and Afghanistan, the market in Pakistan has grown at a enormous pace in the last 5 to 6 years and this growth trend is still continuing. "We expect that by the year 2015 there will be more then 100 million people connected in Pakistan and most of them will be always on". According to him this will be achieved through convergence of voice and data. "Not only we will continue to see growth in voice communication, but data traffic will mereax 100 fold in the next few years' be added.

The Secretary Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication, while taking to this correspondent, said that IT was going under a revolution in Pakistan and its astounding success during the last few years has been acknowledged internationally resulting in increased inflow of foreign investment. He appreciated the role played by foreign companies in the rapid expansion of IT industry who came to Pakistan with substantial investment. The environment would further help the companies to expand their network to rural areas as well in the coming years. In this perspective, the performance of the telecom regulator and the sector is exemplary. The success story of Pakistan's telecom sector is quoted as role model for other emerging markets, he said adding that industry has registered a growth of 50 percent in the financial year 2006-07.

More and more western firms are turning towards Pakistan for IT enabled services to cut costs and raise profits. Officials and industry players believe the rising export figures indicate Pakistan is fast catching up with rapidly developing software industry and at such rate; the country's global IT revenue may ouch $ 9 billion by the end of 2009-10. "If you count such numbers independently, which are not documented, these will be far ahead and may be more than double the exports registered every year', he said the IT industry has emerged as the fastest growing sector this fiscal year, mainly supported by the phenomenal rise in call centers' operations during the last two years. More than 140 centers are currently operating mainly in Lahore, Karachi, and Islamabad offering employment to around 5,000 people defined as a unit, the call centers have adequate telecom facilities, trained manpower and access to database providing information to customers. The advancement in telecom technology has made it possible that the person handling a call could be anywhere provided that communication and interaction is properly handled. Growth in business from western companies has inspired local investors to explore new opportunities. Though Pakistan remains for behind India, operators believe they are on the right path now.

It is widely believed that the regulatory environment providing a deregulated and free market with government intervention kept at the absolute minimum has been instrumental the far the rapid growth of this industry in Pakistan. Recently an international name in the IT field LIRNEASIA a study for the regulatory assessment of the Telecom Authorities in the six selected countries of Asia (Pakistan, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Philippines and Thailand).

This study has rated the Telecom Regulatory Environment (TRE) of Pakistan as the best in the group of these six countries. Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), the regulator, has also been rated the best over its effective regulation in terms of market entry, interconnection, universal service and utilization of scarce resources. Pakistan's telecom sector attracted us $ 1.9 billion during 2005-06 and was 54% of the total FDI in the country during the year. On the other hand, India's telecom sector attracted US$ 4.85 billion during the same period which was just 7.8% of the total FDI in India. Per capita (less privatization proceeds) in telecom sector of Pakistan (US$4.4) is also much higher than India's US$ 0.02. Most of the investment in telecom sector of Pakistan being in the form of FDI is itself a confidence of investors on the regulatory environment in the country by virtue of well-resourced and empowered PTA with a strong leadership. The study has also appreciated PTA's strong role in telecom policy in the country. PTA's decisions have not been subject to litigation, appeal and reversal by the government unlike other countries in the group. The concerned and coherent regulatory actions of PTA have not only created such a Telecom Regulatory Environment in the country that has been rated best in region but also resulted in outstanding performance in terms of sector growth.

Another sources in the Ministry claimed that the Telecom sector is likely to attract 4 billion dollars in investment over the next five years owing to liberal policies introduced by the present government; "this sector has already attracted investment of billions of dollars in last three years due to deregulaisation and liberalization".

In line with the policy being pursued for the last many years, the government would soon offer a 10-point incentive package to foreign investors for manufacturing telecom equipment in Pakistan to save foreign investors and a special committee is finalizing a package in the light of their suggestions.

"The incentive package will be announced soon after its approval at the highest level," he said pointing out that if the plan was implemented it would be first time telecom equipment including mobile sets would be manufactured locally. "The incentives will include duty free import of machinery, smooth availability of raw material, reduction in corporate taxes, concession in power supply rates, human resource development, consistency in policies and other measures," said the official.

"According to statistics, telecom equipment worth around 1 billion dollars was imported by Pakistan during fiscal 2006-07, 26.7 percent more than the imports during the year before that. Imports of mobile phones alone amounted to 506million dollars during July to March in the last fiscal year, showing an increase of 26 percent over imports in the corresponding period during 2005-06.

"The official said a centre would be established in Islamabad at a cost of 4.5 million dollars to develop human resource to cater to the needs of manufacturing of equipment in the telecom sector. He said Nokia has already established a testing facility and similarly facilities would be set up at other places across the country.

"The official said the ministry has also evolved a strategy to set up centers of excellence in universities to impart training in the field of telecom industry, he said over 400 scholarships have so far been awarded to students in the top level universities such as Ghulam Ishaq Institute and National University of Science and Technology. The students of far flung areas would be provided with opportunities to bring them into the main stream and enable them to utilize their potential to optimum level in the industry.

ADAMJEE INSURANCE

First online insurance company in Pakistan

SAFETY ON THE WEB

"Be the first in the category to win the top slot in a consumer's mind" is a golden brand positioning rule to become a market leader. Adamjee insurance, one of the foremost insurance companies in the country, acting pre-emptively has taken the position as the first in online insurance. In the wake of the technological revolution in the digital medium, and the growing use and dependability of this medium, it has become an imperative to speedily address the needs of consumers to their satisfaction.

With an attractive and easy to navigate layout, the online insurance website offers comprehensive services for the tech savvy consumer. The site has web based claim lodging to save the clients' time. The user can also track the claims already lodged with the company. The online vehicle tracking is an easy way to have a piece of mind about the safety of one the most stolen properties in Karachi. The company's clients have the added facility of buying new insurance policies online. The location of Adamjee offices can also be traced online on the site.

One of the most advantageous benefits of the medium is that your consumer is partially in control of the information they see. Also the business experience is much more personal since you are making contracts in the comfort and familiarity of your home. This interactivity and client involvement is the future of all businesses.

 


HBL LAUNCHES CREDIT CARD

HBL comprising pakistan's largest network, recently launched the HBL CreditCard, This Marks HBL's latest addition to a series of new initiatives aimed at adding value for the nation's consumers.

Announcing the launch of HBL CreditCard, the bannk's presidend, Mr. Zakkir Mahmood said "As pakistan's largest private bank,n HBL strives to play an instrumental role in the country's development, especially its financial market. HBL CreditCard is a part of this effort."

Mr.abid sattar, Group Executive. Retail &consumer Banking, HBL stated "We intend to provide the country's most powerful card to every segment of the society, spanning the entire nation, We shall expand the credit card market through our huge branch network, state-of-the-art technology and exemplary customer service."

HBL aims to grow the stagnated credit card market in pakistan by offering convenience, flexibility, security and opportunity to the nation's consumers. Available in Green and gold formats, HBL CreditCard is accepted at more than 24 million merchants worldwide.

Among numerous features offered, "Lower rate every year" is one of the unique features of HBL Cerdit Card. Under this feature, customers will be rewarded through a reduction in the rate of service charges at the end of each year if they pay their regular bills on time. other features offered by HBL CreditCard include E-statement, SMS Alerts, statement by Fax, balance transfer Facility and revolving Credit Facility.